TransitHub wants TTC riders to discover cool stuff near subway and streetcar stops

"There's a love-hate relationship people have with transit," says John Krissilas, CEO of TransitHub. "We're hoping to make it more positive." Krissilas was inspired to create TransitHub, a digital start-up company based in Toronto, to do for commuting what, in his view, Nike+ does for running. That is, to use technology and the power of the web to turn an otherwise "solitary experience" into one where people are "connecting together and creating a community."

The concept of TransitHub is to allow users to tag their "tips" for great businesses, activities, or other insider information to streetcar or subway stop locations (or, in TransitHub parlance, to "hubs") around the city, for other travelers to discover. "When you have a Metropass, it's like having a PowerUp in your hand," says Krissilas. "You'd never get off at a stop when you didn't know there was good stuff [there]," he says, and "we want to encourage people to explore."

TransitHub was founded last June as part of Startup Weekend Toronto - a weekend-long event where aspiring entrepreneurs have the chance to pitch their business ideas, inspire others to join their team, and launch their business, all within 54 hours. Krissilas pitched the idea and motivated seven others to join the TransitHub team. According to him, after close to a year of hard work, TransitHub is on the verge of launching its free app for the iPhone and Android, which will geolocate to tell commuters which hubs they're closest to and what is nearby.

Whether the TransitHub app will ultimately bring value to users and distinguish itself from the many other finder apps that use similar technology to tell users about food, art, or even bank machines, will in large part depend on how interesting the "tips" actually are. As TransitHub has been ramping up to launch its app, the team has been working to encourage people to contribute to its tip database. Currently, anyone can go to the TransitHub website to search for tips or leave tips through Twitter. To this point, however, the tips are still somewhat sparse, and cluster around a few profiled hubs.

The team is also working to build interest in TransitHub through its blog, "What's Your Hub" videos, where commuters talk about their favourite areas around the city, and by attending community events to get the word out. TransitHub, which is entirely funded by its team members, is also looking to partner with local businesses and organizations to feature on its site. So far, ING Direct Cafe and Art for Commuters have signed on.

Of course, while it's not obviously the same thing, we had to mention that you can use the blogTO iPhone and iPad apps to look for recommended restaurants, stores and other local businesses near every TTC subway stop. In the Places section of the app just choose the Subway Stop option as the filter under the Nearby tab.

Writing by Nadine Blum

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